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Rohit Sharma's dream start as Test opener helps India dominate rain-hit day

Rohit Sharma revitalized his below-par Test career with a sublime ton in his new role as the opener helping India reach a domineering 202 for no wicket by the end of the rain-interrupted opening day of the first match against South Africa on Wednesday.

Sharma, already regarded as India's white-ball great, remained unbeaten at 115 at stumps during his terrific boundary-laden knock while opening partner Mayank Agarwal was 16 short of his maiden Test century before rain washed out the evening session.

South Africa's bowling attack was rendered completely ineffective by the Indian batting duo barring a few occasions in the morning session when Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada created a couple of chances.

The jittery nerves at the start of the match then faded into obscurity as Sharma and Agarwal vindicated captain Virat Kohli's decision to bat first on a placid track.

South Africa opted to induct three spinners into their playing XI but Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy failed to find purchase on the pitch.

The openers took a liking to Piedt's bowling in particular, who was at the receiving end of two successive sixes from Sharma to get into the nineties.

The 32-year-old then breached the three-figure mark for the fourth time in his Test career by a single off debutant Muthusamy, raising his bat to the delight of his cheering teammates in the Indian dressing room.

Sharma's elegant knock featured a total of five maximums and his unconquered 174-ball stay at the crease has taken his batting record at home to new heights.

He now averages an unparalleled 98.22 in India with six consecutive fifty-plus scores.

Having played all his stop-start Test career in the middle-order, Sharma was slotted in as opener following KL Rahul's omission from the side.

Meanwhile, Agarwal grew in stature throughout his fine contribution of 84 not out.

The right-handed batsman also took the aerial route and dispatched a couple of sixes in his patient innings.

He did not let the spinners settle into their groove and upset their rhythm by frequently stepping down the crease to work the ball through the gaps in the field.

A sudden thunderstorm towards the final few hours of the day disrupted India's swift progress but they are still comfortably placed in a dominant position.

India, currently sitting atop the World Test Championship table with 120 points, are eyeing a record 11th Test series victory at home.

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